Ben Revere Needs to Do More Than Just Hit Singles

In the bottom of the third inning against Washington Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez on Sunday afternoon, Ben Revere slapped a ground ball down the first base line into the right field corner. It was a triple the moment it got past first baseman Adam LaRoche, showcasing Revere’s best weapon: his speed; the ability to turn a single into a double or a double into a triple. The triple was Revere’s second of the season. Unfortunately, the Phillies couldn’t get him home the way they did Jimmy Rollins after the shortstop tripled in the first inning.

Shockingly, Revere’s two triples are his only extra-base hits of the season. That he hasn’t homered is no surprise, but that he hasn’t doubled yet is perplexing. Additionally, Revere has only drawn two walks in 105 plate appearances (1.9%). Even though he is hitting a respectable .284, Revere has a .270 weighted on-base average, which is the fourth-worst among qualified center fielders. He outranks only Will Venable, Abraham Almonte (the Mariners demoted him to Triple-A Tacoma on Sunday night), and Denard Span.

If Revere isn’t going to walk or homer, then Revere has to make frequent use of the gaps in the outfield. Unfortunately, since joining the Phillies, only 14 of his 126 hits have gone for extra bases. To Revere’s credit, he has turned a single into a double with 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts this season. However, he hasn’t attempted a steal of third yet in 2014.

Revere is most commonly compared to Juan Pierre, another powerless slap hitter who stole a lot of bases. Pierre, however,¬†averaged nearly 25 doubles per season in the seven-year span in which he was a regular outfielder for the Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins, and Chicago Cubs between 2001-07. He also averaged 10 triples and 40 walks per season. That’s in addition to hitting .301 overall and averaging 55 steals per season. In those seasons, Pierre’s adjusted¬†weighted runs created (wRC+) was 88, 12 points below average. Revere’s as a Phillie? 86.

Revere is only 26 years old and still has the potential to be every bit as valuable to the Phillies — and every bit as annoying as Pierre was to his opponents — if he can do more than just hit singles and occasionally steal second base. Revere is hitting ground balls at a 68.2 percent clip, the third-highest rate in baseball. His ground ball to fly ball ratio at 7.50-to-one is by far the highest in the league, well ahead of second-place Jean Segura‘s 5.64.

A majority of Revere’s ground balls are right up the middle to the shortstop or second baseman, routine plays even with his speed. Revere should instead focus on hitting line drives, or if he can’t do that, then slapping ground balls to the left side — keeping the ball as far away from the first base bag as possible to give him the best possible chance to beat out a throw, putting pressure on the defense.

You don’t have to be terribly strong to hit line drives; just strong enough to get them to the outfield. If Pierre and Rafael Furcal can do it, Revere can do it. These are the kinds of dinky hits that should be common with Revere:

And hey, some more walks would be nice too. Baby steps.

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